When I was 17, I dropped out of high school to see the world. I spent a year tracing the Mediterranean coastline on my own, visiting Spain, Italy, Morocco, and other countries. It was an unforgettable adventure -- equal parts pleasurable, lonely, and stimulating.
I left Japan by plane, then traveled by train, bus, and foot to my first destination: the town of Ronda. Barely able to sleep from excitement and nerves, I arrived exhausted and famished. A delicious aroma on a street corner caught my attention and I eventually tracked it to a small local bakery.
Using my rudimentary Spanish, I managed to convince the baker to share some of his bread with me. As I took my first bite, tears welled in my eyes -- I felt tension, fatigue, hope, and uncertainty. The flavor and aroma of the bread seemed to break down a dam within me, letting all my emotions flow out. Even today, I still remember the fragrance and taste of that freshly baked bread.